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The Scots Pagazine,
tenweem, in the county of Fife, about
Binning on the State of Lunatic A-
Notice respecting the Pilniewinks, an
Instrument of Torture.................214 FOREIGN JOURNALS—M. Sylvestre
Account of Dr Gosse's method of pre-
blishments of Paris M. Pictet on
Letter from Count Montlozier, on the
neralogy-Political Cards mo.....260
Explanation of the Notation in the Song from the Gaelic
Wedding Cloaths,' Dec. 1701..........224 Medical Advice On Friendsip ........... ib.
lately discovered in the remote Moun British Legislation
John Crawfurd, Esq.)... ..239 Appointments and Promotions.com wib.
found in Ayrshire.com.. ---...243 Biographical Notice of the Hon. Henry
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SOME ACCOUNT OF THE WITCHES OF great event, to the level of men in
PITTENWEEM, IN THE COUNTY OF other respects, naturally led to a be FIFE, ABOUT THE BEGINNING OF lief in their occasional manifestation, LAST CENTURY.
both in their own proper form, and Hard luck, alake! when poverty and eild in the assumed garb of humanity. Weeds out o' fashion, and a lanely bield, It was, however, in every respect des Wi' a sma' cast o' wiles, should in a sirable that the more immediate intwitch
tercourse between the worlds of matter Gie ane the hatefu' name—A wrinkler and of spirit should be carried on by a
witch. GENTLE SHEPHERD. chosen few of the human race, to whom
The wishes, and probably still more, their fellow mortals might apply, the terrors of man, in that rude state as to the delegates of invisible power, of society in which science has not yet on every great emergency. Such seems begun to trace effects towards their to have been the origin of oracles and causes in the established laws of na- priests, and all the other delusions of ture, seem every where to have laid paganism, both in ancient and modern the foundation of a multiplicity of po- times. pular creeds, of which the object is to The light of Christianity, and the connect man with mysterious beings progress of knowledge, which have of greater power and intelligence than done so much to rectify the judgment, himself. The character which the ima as well as to purify the heart, by disgination gave to this intercourse, was playing the wisdom and goodness of the consequence, in some degree, of the Supreme Being, have not yet altoaccidental occurrences, but still more, gether dispelled the illusions which perhaps, of local circumstances, and of had possessed the imagination during the social condition of the people. The the infancy and helplessness of rationvicissitudes of human life, and of hu- al being. On the contrary, some pasman affairs, however, do not permit the sages in the Holy Scriptures themmost prosperous people to ascribe pure selves, though evidently applicable onbenevolence to these superior beings; ly to the peculiar circumstances of the and so much greater is the sensibility theocratical government of the Jews, of men to painful and disastrous e or to the first promulgation of the vents, and the dread of their recur- gospel, have been not only taken in rence, than to such instances of good their most literal sense, but held to fortune as either happen very rarely, prove the continued succession, through or are neutralized by their frequency, every age of the world, of a class of that in the superstitions of every age human beings endowed with the and country, perhaps, the number, power of infringing the established and power, and activity, of capricious laws of nature, and actually in the spirits, or of such as are decidedly hos- practice of exercising this power for tile to human happiness, will be found the most insignificant purposes. to predominate, or to have exerted, at In the records of ignorance and creleast an equal influence in the com- dulity, there is not perhaps a more mon affairs of life with the beneficent. melancholy proof of the aberration
This propensity to reduce the invis of the human mind than that which sible beings whose power and know. is exhibited by the very general beledge were recognised in almost every lief in witchcraft, which, in this coua
try, continued to prevail down to the riod when the superstition of the dark close of the seventeenth century, and ages was shaken to its foundation by which, even at the present moment, is the spirit of inquiry which, in a few far from being completely eradicated. years, led to the complete establishThe sex, age, and condition of the in-, ment of the Reformation. It deserves dividuals commonly accused of this also to be remarked, that the trials for crime,—the utter improbability of the this crime seem to have been most accusation itself, and of the overt acts numerous about a hundred years afby which it was attempted to prove it, terwards, * though, during this interthe horrid means by which confessions were
extorted, and the cruel doom which awaited conviction cromancie, and credence given thereto in -do not appear to have ever raised And for avoyding and away-putting of all
times by-gane, against the law of God : any doubts of the reality of their guilt, sik vaine superstition in times to cum; It and very rarely to have excited in the is statute and ordained be the Queenis Ma. minds of their judges those feelings jestie, and the three Estaites foresaidis, of commiseration, which nothing but that na maner of person nor persones, of the grossest superstition has ever been quhat-sum-ever estaite, degree, or condiable altogether to repress with the tion they be of, take upon hand in onie sufferings of the greatest criminal. times hereafter, to use onie maner of
But we do not mean at present to witch-craftes, sorcerie, or necromancie, nor enter upon the very extensive field to give themselves furth to have onie sik craft which these general views would con
or knawledge theirof, their-throw abusand duct us.
the people : Nor that na person seik onie It may suffice, on this occasion, merely to notice the law and help, response, or consultation at onie sik
users or abusers foresaidis of witch-crafics, practice of Scotland in regard to the sorceries, or nu cromancic, under the paine alleged crime of witchcraft ; and then of death, alsweil to be execute against the to mark the dawn of improvement in user, abuser, as the seiker of the response public opinion at the commencement or consultation. And this to bee put to of the eighteenth century, displayed execution be the Justice, Schireffis, Stew. in the case of the witches of Pitten- ards, Baillies, Lordes of Regalities and weem in Fifeshire. For our acquaint- Royalties, their deputes, and uthers ordi. ance with these personages we are
nar judges competent within this realme, chiefly indebted to some curious ori
with all rigour, having power to execute
the samen. ginal documents, and to several very
It has been doubted whether the framerz rare tracts, printed at the time when of this act themselves believed in witchthe events they describe had very re
craft, and whether by denouncing the cently occurred.
same heavy penalty against the dupe and It is a singular circumstance in the the impostor, they ever expected it to be history of this delusion in Scotland, executed at all. The judges and juries, that the only statute against witch- however, never secm to have had any eraft passed so late as in 1563,
doubts about the matter.
* In the year 1661, the number of
commissions upon record for trying persons As this remarkable statute, which suspected of zoitchcraft are very considera
ble; they are, brought so many innocent beings to an un
Jul. 25.-_Isobell Johnstoun in Gullan. timely end, is not very long, we shall here make room for it. The reader cannot fail Margaret Nisbet in Spott. to perceive, 0:1 comparing this simple and
Aug. 2.-Katherine Black, Elizabeth concise enactment with the elaborate and Black, Isobell Crocket, in Stirling. voluminous acts of the present age, how Elliot, George Watson, James Johnston,
Sept. 6.-Margaret Moffat, Margaret much the technical part of the science of Elspeth Yester, Margaret Nisbet, all in legislation has been improved in the inter. dwellers in the parochin of Spott.
Jean mediate period :
Hunter, Jean Gitgood, Jean Knox, Mar“ QUEEN MARIE,-Ninth Parliament, garet Howie, Bessie Turnbull, Katherine “ IV of June 1563.
Johnston, John Harbour, all residenteris (6 73. Anentis Witch-craftes. within the parochin of Ormiston...William “ ITEM, For-sa-meikle as the Queenis Hog, Marion Grinlaw, Jean Howison, Majestie, and the three Estates in this Elspeth Haliburton, parish of Neatoun. present Parliament, being informed that Margaret Bartan, Isobel Bathgate, in the heavie and abhominable superstition Queensferry, used be diverse of the lieges of this realme, Sept. 18.-Jonet Watsoun, Bessie Mof de using of witch-craftes, sorcerie, and nea fat, Kathrine Hunter, in Dalkeit, Jan
val, the nation had not only acquired deed, this eminent lawyer stoutly a thorough conviction of the value of defends the popular belief against civil and religious liberty, but shed the more liberal views of “ many its blood in the most arduous struggles lawyers in Holland and elsewhere." to obtain and secure both, under cir- The same belief prevailed in Engcumstances of peculiar difficulty and land posterior to the middle of the discouragement. If the legal murders seventeenth century. At the assizes which the records of our criminal held at Bury St Edmond's for the courts prove to have been committed county of Suffolk, on the 10th March during this period, had occurred in 1664, before Sir Matthew Hale, Rose that comparatively remote age which Cullenler and Amy Duny, widows, Shakespeare has penetrated with the were found guilty of witchcraft, "uplight of his genius in his tragedy of on a long evidence,” and hanged a Macbeth, however much we might few days after. In the absurdity of lament the infatuation of our forefa- the accusation, the insufficiency of the thers, we should find it less diffi- evidence, and the iniquity of the vercult to account for their proceedings. dict,--the unhappy women asserting But Sir George Mackenzie, in his their innocence in their last moments, “ Laws and Customes of Scotland, in --this remarkable trial is in no degree matters criminal,” so late as 1678, exceeded by any similar one in Scotnever insinuates a doubt of the reality land. of withcraft, though he was led to ex It was not till 1735, by the 9th press his strong disapprobation of the Geo. II. c. 6, that prosecutions for forms of trial then in use in a number witchcraft, and for imputing witchof instances. On the contrary, in- craft to others, were prohibited ; and
it does not appear that the wisdom of net Scott, George Lumsdeall, at Innerlei. the legislature in this repeal had been then. Isobell Monro, Mary Burges, va- anticipated by the progress of knowgabonds haunting in Strathspey and Mur- ledge among the great body of the raysland. Nov. 7.–Barbra Hood, Helen Belshes, sometimes alleged. So late as 1722, a
people, to such an extent as has been in Yeamouth.-Euphain Adair, Helen Breckenrig, in Crichton.- Margaret Wala person was brought to the strke in
Scotland for the crime of witchcraft, ker, (spouse to William Curry,) Jonet Cur. ry, her dochter, in Pentland. --- Isobel Ry- under the authority of the sheriff-de rie, in Forfar.–Agness Wiliamson, in pute of the county of Sutherland. + Haddington.
In 1743, a body of dissenters, who Nov. 19.–Margaret Liddell, Kathrine have since become numerous and reKey, in Newburgh. Elspeth Grinlaw, spectable, published an act of their in Queensferry.
presbytery, in which, among the naDer. 17.-Helen Cothall, Helen Gu- tional sins enumerated as the causes thery, Elspeth Guthery, in Forfar.sa- of God's wrath against Scotland, is to bell Smith, in Atholl. Who had all confessed themselves guilty tutes against witches, “contrary to
be found the repeal of the penal staof the abominable cryme of witchcraft, the express law of God;” and the in entering into paction with the devil, renuncing their baptisme,” and other ways, their pulpits, and firinly believed by
same doctrine is still taught from &c.
In 1662, the number is still more con the far greater number of their adsiderable, but the commissions seem to herents. We happen to know, inhave been granted under certain qualifica- deed, that a belief in witches and tions; for instance, Jun. 12, 1602. Com- witchcraft prevails even at this day amission is granted to Sir Archibald Douglas, Sheriff-principal of Roxburgh, and others, “ to try and judge Bessie wer of compleat age, sound judgment, noThomson, Malie Johnston, Agnes Quarie, wayes distracted, or under any earnest deand Malie Turnbull, who have confest sire to dy, and reiterat the former confesthemselves to be guilty of witchcraft, sions made by them judicially ; that then, with these qualities, That if they shall be and in those cases, the saids commissioners found guiltie vpon voluntar confessions, cause the sentence of death to be execute by renuncing of baptisme, paction with the upon them, and no utherways." divell, or committing of malifices, without Trial of Witches, &c. taken by a perany sort of torture or other indirect meanes son then attending the Court, printed in used, and that the tyme of thair confes- 1716. sions and pactioning with the divell, they † Arnot's Criminal Trials, p.